Directed and compiled by B.V. Karanth/बी. वी. कारंत.
Bhootaradhana is an indigenous pre-Aryan cult still practised in coastal Karnataka: the worship of benevolent spirits or Bhootas regarded as guardians of the people. The Bhootas are many--animal spirits, spirits of heroes, incarnations of the mother Goddess and puranic deities--each with an established mythology and iconography. Worshipped in homes and village shrines--Bhootasthanas--they come to life in a shamanistic enactment during the annual/biannual festival of Nema, also called Koola. The festival is propitiatory, involving all castes, and the performance a facility giving devotees access to their Gods. In a typical performance, the medium acts out an episode from the life of the Bhoota, engages in a spectacular dance, accepts the devotees' oblations in the role of the deity, and settles village disputes and personal problems, promising protection and prosperity. The Bhoota cult and enactment incorporate a large body of associated ritual, a rich compliment of ballads - pad-dana in praise of the spirits, elaborate costumes and make-up, different for each role. The impersonator is at once a singer, dancer and craftsman, the prime contributor to the pageantry of Koola. The festival is essential religious but is known no less for the entertainment it affords.
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